Santosha means contentment.
Contentment is more than chasing what you like and avoiding what you don’t. Often this course of action drops you into suffering when you can’t get what you want or are faced with what you don’t want.
Contentment has a slightly negative connotation. “Just be content with what you have” suggests settling. Settling suggest giving up.
When we have dissatisfaction with some element of our lives it may be motivation to make a change that moves us away from what causes us pain. This needs to be tempered with the ability to see a more fully whole picture. Maybe an aspect of our lives is frustrating but the rest is satisfying. How we exist within that dichotomy can either increase or decrease our contentment: the feeling of not striving; of not needing or wanting; of not lacking.
Contentment is not settling and it is not giving up.
Santosha, one of the niyamas of the Yoga Sutras, is the practice of allowing peace within yourself as a way to ease some of the clinging and clawing that life sometimes requires of you.
It is a way to calmly notice if your suffering is imposed from the inside or outside. As you practice quieting and noticing, you will create agency: you’ll be happier intrinsically, instead of seeking it from the outside.
Something I have attempted to implement in my day to day is to say yes to what is. Contentment is being able to not fight everything that enters your life. When a child stands at the foot of my bed in the middle of the night and says mommy, my brain says no. Immediately and without trying. I’m practicing saying yes to those moments. To be content with what is.
Sometimes the best we can do is to be in this mental space one day out of 30. But, that’s all anyone can ask of us. The best we can do.